Photography in Berlin

Family portraiture: capturing the beauty

Family portraiture is a fine art.

It’s about getting close, but still keeping that little bit of space. In fact, I believe it’s the perception of a related outsider that best captures family moments: very much present, yet at that crucial distance. 

grandmother portrait, family portraiture, monochrome portrait, artistic portrait, female photographer, female artist Within my own family, the photographic act rarely takes centre stage, it’s more like briefly coming up for air or jotting down a quick note, while being immersed in the flow of things. So, getting round to capturing family portraiture always needs a specific type of urgency in order to make it happen, like when we gathered to photograph my grandmother shortly before she passed away.

During this particular session, in front of my great grandmother’s family home, she urged me to photograph her sons for her. To create the desired set-up with my uncles, I needed my grandmother’s personal commission.

And, I have to say, it was a truly empowering experience for me to be directing them as a professional photographer after having always been their little niece.musician portrait, family portraiture, monochrome portrait, artistic portrait, female photographer, female artist  

It was a brand new dynamic and the resulting images give just a trace of a specific moment in time that will never occur again.

Because I have a deep respect for family constellations and the art called for in capturing their representation, I was very happy and honoured to be commissioned for family portraiture after a friend’s daughter’s confirmation last autumn. Coming into this group of family members and close friends, it felt very precious to be trusted with such an important job. The process was absolutely magical – and a lot of fun for everyone involved.

I could feel that I became a witness and a vessel for what they wanted to express and share with one another.

portraits of women, family portraiture, baby portrait, artistic portrait, female photographer, female artist For my 2012 solo show at the M-Museum in Leuven, Belgium, I took parallel exhibitions as starting points for my installation Poem to be sung. One was the Sol Lewitt retrospective from which I derived the shape alphabet, and the other was a Madonna sculpture from the museum’s Medieval collection. Ultimately, my Artist with removed objects and child  photograph is a dialogue of both these influences, taking a unique place in my growing collection of portraits of women. Plus, I had a 3 year-old boy of my own at home while preparing for this show – my first big solo show in a museum.

So this photograph most definitely captured my creative process in a moving and personal way too.

woman portrait, family portraiture, monochrome portrait, artistic portrait, female photographer, female artist Ultimately, what I’ve found through my empowering photography work, is that people want to be shown with their closest family members. For example, I was working on a portrait of my godmother, a Finnish priest living in Vienna. After our session, she called for her sons, and then her husband, to come in too. It felt to me as if her self image was only complete when surrounded by her loved ones. We are social animals after all. 

And, as for me – the photographer in the room – what’s special and satisfying is the inherent trust that I sense being extended towards me. Being in such a situation gives me the confidence to involve myself, respectfully, and arrange beautiful family portraits according to what feels right.

The Magic of Portrait Photography (Part Two)

My portraits of women are a cornerstone of what I do. In that work, I am often hired to do a single portrait, which then expands into a pair or group portrait – this is down to the natural, evolving need to subsequently show that same person in connection with their products or within their team.

While in a single portrait session there is an intimate space between the person I am photographing and my camera, especially in terms of what she wants to represent professionally, as soon as there are two or more subjects, their shared relationship comes into play.

portraits of women, empowering photography, Berlin

Channeling my empowering photography ethos, my aim was to show Caroline Schneider, founder of Sternberg Press, as the true art and discourse-related thinker, as well as leader that she is.

When I took this solo portrait for Sternberg – a publishing house for artistic and cultural criticism, creative non-fiction, and literary and experimental fiction founded by Caroline in New York in 1999 – it gave way to a team shoot where I captured an even fuller picture of their work environment and the dynamics exist between them. It is in their creative home on Karl-Marx-Allee, amidst their books, that I took this series.

group portrait, empowering photography, Berlin

I wanted to illustrate how Caroline has a very strong relationship to each and every single title published by the press, plus with the vital, dynamic team she has carefully built over the years in this truly unique place. Her beauty shines.

Indeed, once you start representing a person in a professional context, there is always that wider spectrum or bigger picture which wants to be shown to the world. And, ideally, all of these photographs should be taken by the same person, so that they can create a cohesive vision – one which aesthetically becomes one body. That’s where I come in!

art curator, women portrait, women monochromeIn this vein, I’ve also photographed Eva Meyer-Hermann: a curator and art historian who decided to become a curator for artists, as her way of responding to the political developments in the art world which have led to its general lack of real exchange and mediation.

And it was precisely at this special moment of building her new identity – and website – that I came into the picture, with my personal branding photography, with the aim of communicating both Eva herself and her practice to a wider audience.

personal branding photography, portraits of women, empowering photography, art curator

We spent a couple of hours together in her office – first alone, then with her associate curator, Johannes Schmidt. Every photograph I took for Eva had a different role to play. In the headshot, the aim was to show her as open and smiling, offering an invitation for dialogue.

The other two images show moments of contemplation and creative thinking, as well as her explaining a work of art that is dear to her.

Similarly, I have enjoyed the privilege of capturing Laura Galatti’s portrait. Laura is a Swiss pianist, composer, and politician. After having encountered her and her partner, Christina Thürmer-Rohr, performing Die Kontroverse in the Viennese Liszt-Saal, I had the honour of joining them during rehearsal in their performance space, Akazie 3, here in Berlin Schöneberg.

empowering photography, portraits of women, female pianist, female artistsMy role in facilitating empowering photography here was centred on conveying Laura’s artistry and skill. This type of work presents me with the wonderful challenge of somehow finding a meaningful way to convert aural beauty into a visual medium.

So in my single portraits of Laura, the viewer is able to experience Laura listening to the sound she is producing with a metal sheet. And in her partnered shots, I have sought to communicate her close relationships and dialogues with her instrument, her partner, and the very process of writing music.personal branding photography, portraits of women, empowering photography

Ultimately, it’s all an organic process. During the portrait session, the women I’m photographing talk with me and show me what they are selling or creating or offering. Then, I capture these aspects too.

In fact, in so much of my art photography work to date, I have searched for ways to capture invisible processes within a photographic image, something of an essence that would otherwise be hidden: from plants and fruits, to animals, and nonverbal communication between people.

In this way, I am very versatile in what and how I can photograph, so website photography – as this broad, rich spectrum – just comes naturally to me. 

 

 

The Magic of Portrait Photography (Part One)

food waste reduction, quinces 2021I adore quincesI love their velvet skins, the hard bodies, their rich perfume, their androgyne character, their rich yellow colour that turns red in the cooking process. I love how they challenge me as a cook and I love their role in ancient cooking practices – both here, in Europe, and in the SWANA* region – and find it interesting to think about what traditions they have been part of throughout history. In fact, I am currently experimenting with some Jewish SWANA recipes, both savoury and sweet: I have a wonderfully large quince harvest waiting for me on my balcony at home and, true to type, will be documenting my processes in working with them this season.

Outwith my own kitchen, I am devoting time and energy to a brand new space that, like my own kitchen, will be home to exciting experiments and adventures in all things food – including food waste reduction – and the senses.

creativity workshops, art workshops, Lobe Berlin 2021Lobe is a house project in Wedding: a newly built, brutalist concrete building defined by its terraces, its garden – where, among other things, quinces grow – and its many cohabiting animals. Soon, its ground floor units will become one space, a fresh, joint space for events, workshops, food experiments, and a lab for creating a more sustainable future.

Ana Zatezalo and Olivia Reynolds are the founders of this new space and project. With quinces fresh in from the harvest of the Lobe garden and the quince being chosen as the symbol of their new venture (name to be revealed!), I knew that I just had to channel my empowering photography approach to capture them with these brilliant fruits as a symbolic starting point of their collaboration journey.

So, what happens when you bring artistic, innovative women and versatile, delicious fruits together?

personal branding photography, portraits of women, empowering photographyNot least a dream commission for me as a portrait photographer in the world of personal branding photography… weaving together my roles as a member of the founding team, cook, and photographer – one who specialises in portraits of women and fruits! – and capturing the very essence of Lobe’s future here in Berlin.

Over the next couple of months, I will be the one to create all of Ana and Olivia’s website photography: ultimately creating online portraits that communicate the playful potential in business collaboration. This is part of my work that I really love – distilling and celebrating the character and mission of fascinating people who are creating important work. So, watch this space…

*SWANA is an acronym referring to the wide geographical area which encompasses South West Asia and North Africa.